How’s the Writing Going? NaNo + Skyships (Beautiful Books: Nov. ’17)

It’s time once again for BEAUTIFUL BOOKS, a monthly blog-link-up for writers hosted by the lovely Sky and Cait. This month’s is focused on “How’s the Writing Going?” and looking in on the current progress of the novels we’re writing for NaNo… or writing for any other reason. 😉 (Join up in the linky at one of the posts linked above.)

Last month, I introduced my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel, The Siren and the Skyship, my YA Fantasy-Steampunk retelling of The Little Mermaid, so here’s an update on how this story’s coming along!

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

It’s going pretty well. 🙂 I’m at 31,714 words for NaNo so far, so as of last night I was on track! I shall have to dash off and do today’s words hopefully after this post. 😉

I was only behind for two days, early in the month, due to circumstances outside my control (this has been an INSANELY busy November, and I’m just like “SLOW DOWN ALREADY, IT’S NANO, HALP.”) but I’ve managed to claw my way to the on-par bar each night, somehow. I keep meaning to get ahead, but… not really happening. *grimaces* But at least I’m on track! Yay! 🙂

The novel itself is only 25K so far (since I started NaNo with a 6K short story about Tare and the Chess Club), so it’s a little less far along than I’d normally be, but that’s okay — the higher number is giving me more of a sense that STUFF HAS TO BE HAPPENING instead of “oh, I’m only 25K in, I can still do beginning stuff…”

I’ve finally got the three main characters on a skyship together — hurray! And I just dropped a major plot point so yes, things are going well. 😀

As far as my mental state — AHAHAHA. Ahem. Well, it’s been going back and forth between “Ugh, this story is a MESS, what am I doing; I should drop noveling and move to a remote island in the Arctic instead” to “this is fun! I wanna write the next scene!” and basically fluctuating between panic/loathing, and enjoying it immensely. So yes, I’d say it’s a normal NaNo. XD

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

(I’m sharing three, since I have three POV characters. ^_^ The first is the opening line of the novel; the other two are when we meet the other characters.)

Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley stepped out of her ship’s cabin and met the dawn how she most loved to: flying through the dawn-hued clouds in her skyship.

***

Auren, an air spirit and the youngest son of the Cloud Siren queen, flew through the air by the Star Dreamer, moving with the wind.

***

Gunfire rang out, and a small explosion rocked the skyship, gunpowder smoke and steam mixing in the air to form a mist as Rook bounded along down a walkway in the depths of the ship.

3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

(Image found on Pinterest)

Rook.

Oh, wait, you wanted more than that? Ahem.

For anyone who’s read my #WIPjoy post, you’re prooobably not surprised that my favorite character so far is Rook, the side character who wants to steal the show from Tasmania and Auren (who are the Little-Mermaid-esque romantic leads/main characters). I haven’t gotten to write with him as much as I’d like, since he doesn’t meet up with the other main characters for a little while, but so far he’s definitely my favorite. ^_^ And he’s kind of epic and just yes.

BUT I’M FOND OF THEM ALL. ❤ I just need to write more so I can get to know them all better…

4. What do you love about your novel so far?

I love my characters, and I love how it’s unlike anything I’ve ever written, and I especially love getting to play around in this sky-based fantasy world with the skyships and clouds. It’s gorgeous in my head and I’m having an amazing time exploring it, and — basically somebody just make a movie of this thing already because it would look amazing. ❤

(Images found on Pinterest)

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

I don’t know, really, because my backspace-key-instincts when I spot a typo are faster than the speed of thought, which means I fix them ASAP in the midst of my writing (usually; if I see it in the mad rush of writing) and so I don’t remember what they were.

I did just realize that since I accidentally wrote chapter 6 before writing chapter 5, I referenced something in chapter 5 that happened later… which was very silly. Oh well, more words. We can all fix our mistakes after November 30. 😉

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

I’m going to have to say middles, because there’s a lot of pressure involved with beginnings and ends.

With beginnings, you don’t quite have a handle on the characters yet and you’re just starting out, not sure about how the story is going to go.

With endings (not that I ever reach there these days… >.> *COUGHCOUGHCOUGH*) it’s like “How am I supposed to wrap up all the things and make it awesome?”

Like I said: pressure on both counts. (Though I WILL say that starting a novel can be exhilarating — why do you think I start so may? *ahem* — and nothing beats the feel of finishing a novel… So I kind of like all three, but middles are especially fun.)

Middles mean you are just wildly running around playing around with your characters who are surprising you, and it’s just glorious fun.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I don’t usually eat while I’m writing because who can focus on both at once? (Spoiler: not me.) If I’m writing, I’m writing; the end.

I do listen to music, especially during NaNo, and it’s usually very fast to help with my typing speeds: either gorgeous soundtrack-type instrumentals, or Christian Rock/Pop, because FAST TYPING. Or Lindsey Stirling, if I have internet access while I’m writing (which isn’t as often as I would like, and more often than my wordcount would like).

I write best at night when there are no distractions and I can get in the zone, but these days I write a lot in the last afternoon/early evening, because that’s when I get around to it…

And I usually write in my comfy chair. Behold my NaNo life of late:

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I’m a mix, because I’m very shy about sharing my stuff especially when I’m feeling unsure about it or stuck, BUT I do need the cheer squad to keep me motivated, otherwise I feel down. So I might mention what’s up in the novel (or share a small snippet) in an email/forum/Tweet, and I usually read my chapters aloud to my sister every so often, so she can cheer me on. (10/10 recommend getting yourself an extremely supportive sister to do NaNo with — she’s amazing and encourages me and is awesome.) And I have a couple of major NaNo-buddies who I keep up with and it’s AWESOME supporting each other. ^_^ I don’t know what I’d do without my writerly friends! Y’all are awesome! ❤

(But yes, as far as writing goes, I work alone, like Batman and my character Tare. *nodnod* *puts on shades and wears black and walks away mysteriously to novel in some back alley of my imagination*)

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

Um… the ever-demanding stats-graph on the NaNo site and the fact that I need to hit that on-par line each day. XD Falling behind is NOT something to do during NaNo, as I’ve learned from hard experience…

Other times, it’s how much I’m loving this story/characters. It flips back and forth between the two. 😉

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

(Watch while I blissfully ignore my own advice… *cough*)

  1. Just start. Sit down and start writing, because you’re never going to feel ready.
  2. Don’t worry about perfection, just get the story down in its most basic form — and if that’s messy, go for it! First drafts are exploration missions — you’re exploring the terrain and drawing a map. The building of homes and fences and making it livable and such can come later.
  3. Use wordsprints to your advantage! Try the awesome one on the NaNo site, or just set a timer, and write until the alarm goes off. You’ll be amazed to find that at the end of every 10 minute session, you’ve written two or three hundred words… Then try it again. And again. And then you’ll be done before you know it. 🙂

Here’s a look at my wordsprinting secret-weapon layout. Wordsprint timer from the site open in my browser in one window; very fast music in a playlist in another; and Scrivener, my PRECIOUSSS, where I can monitor how many words I have in my current little segment during the wordwar. It’s a stellar combination and makes me write SO FAST. ❤

I had some more NaNo writing tips here. 🙂

Welp, back to the drawing writing-board! I have a busy day and need to get on writing those words to stay on track, and try to get ahead because Thanksgiving, awk; MUST GET AHEAD. So it’s off to Life/Write for me! I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving, American friends! ^_^ (And a fantastic week, anyone else. ;))

How’s your novel going, if you’re doing NaNo? If not, what are you up to? Chat in the comments below! And if I possibly can squeeze in some editing between my novel-writing, I’m hoping to see if I can share a short story on the blog next week, so stay tuned! Thanks so much for reading! ^_^ *hugs all around*

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Beautiful Books: The Siren and the Skyship (NaNo 2017)

It’s almost NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, dontcha know), so that means it’s time foooor…

Beautiful Books!

Yes indeed, Sky and Cait have thoughtfully put together a questionnaire to fill out regarding our NaNo novels! (Or any kind of novel, really.) So check out the linkup and join in if you like, and read on for a look at the novel I’m planning to write this November! 🙂

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’m not sure exactly what sparked the idea… it just sort of happened.

June 26, 2015: I wrote in my then-writer’s-journal (I keep a new one every year) about a steampunk fantasy Little Mermaid story with the roles switched (mer character a guy, prince character a princess/skyship-captain). The title arrived a couple weeks later, and a week or two after that, I met the side character whose subplot tied everything together, along with an explosion of other characters and details, turning into a novel I was dying to write.

It’s expanded somewhat since then, but the main story idea is all from June-July two years ago, and I’ve been excited to write it ever since!

2. Describe what your novel is about!

I don’t mind if I do! It’s a YA Steampunk-Fantasy retelling of The Little Mermaid… ish.

Here, have a burb. *tosses summary at you*

The Siren and the Skyship

by Deborah O’Carroll

(NaNo 2017 Novel)

It’s just another mission on a voyage through the clouds for Her Royal Highness Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley, Captain of the HRSS Star-Dreamer. Until she is saved from a fall from her skyship by an unseen rescuer, and an odd young man comes into her life with sky-blue eyes and cloud-white hair.

Auren never chose to be a cloud-siren prince; he would rather steer a skyship alongside the young woman he loves—who happens to be a princess and a captain. But to become human he must make a trade. Who needs a voice, anyway?

All Rook wanted was to serve in the skynavy, but everything he holds dear is taken from him. Fighting to forge a new life for himself, he carries the most dangerous secret of all—one the Sorcerer of the Mist will be happy to take off his hands.

When assassins strike close to home and send Princess Tasmania’s world spiraling into disarray, she will need all her friends at her side to face cloud-city ambassadors, spies, more assassins, sky pirates, the Sorcerer of the Mist (who keeps collecting things that don’t belong to him), and oh—maybe a little love.

These cloud voyages may turn out more interesting than the Star-Dreamer’s crew anticipated.

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Clouds. Skyships. Steampunk. Tea. Love.

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

Meet Princess Tasmania, captain of the skyship Star-Dreamer; Auren, the invisible/insubstantial wind-spirit-type Cloud Siren who wants to be human (okay, so he will be very early on…); and Rook, the former skynavyman whose father was a skyship admiral and whose mother was the daughter of a pirate king and an assassin.

Rook keeps threatening to steal the show because he’s awesome, but I keep trying to remind him that this is a LITTLE MERMAID RETELLING and he’s neither main character from that story. (Tasmania and Auren are awesome too, but, well… Rook…)

Anyway, consequently, I don’t know who’s the real MC, so I’m currently calling all three of them Main Characters and letting them fight it out. We’ll see what happens. XD

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

Other characters include: Noya (Tasmania’s best friend/right-hand gal), Xasper (a street-thief-turned-cabin-boy who may or may not be WHOOPS SPOILERS), an assassin lady, a couple of cool pirates (and some scary ones), various quirky/eccentric/epic crew-members on Tasmania’s ship, several villains, and Tasmania’s awesome brothers. The side characters are nearly as vivid in my mind as the main ones and I’M SO EXCITED TO WRITE THEM ALL. ❤

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Getting ready for the hectic adventure that is NaNoWriMo, and prepping to write a book, are two separate (but in this case related) things. NaNo prep I usually do all or most of the stuff in this post: 30 Things To Do For NaNo Prep.

When I plot a novel, I like to have a summary, a rough outline, and a chapter-by-chapter list if possible, as well as names for characters, maybe some inspirational pictures, and just… well… to feel READY.

I also set up a pin board thing each NaNo. This is my current one (subject to change) and includes inspiring quotes by friends, NaNo stuff, inspirational pictures, and links to my Scrivener and folder.

This year I’m currently trying something new, which is having a dedicated journal just for writing down ideas for this story. I haven’t done much with it yet, so I’m not sure how helpful it will be, but so far I’ve jotted down some thoughts I’ve had over the last two weeks, which was handy. I’m hoping, soon, to really buckle down and write out a lot of my brainstorm ideas, and sort through old notes I have, and then see if I can organize (perhaps with Scrivener’s help) something out of the jumble that will hopefully end up resembling a plot outline… Hey, at least I have three weeks in which to do so, right?? *eye twitch*

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

ALL OF IT. Okay, so I’m really excited to do a Little-Mermaid-ish story; I’m suuuper excited about the skyships and this world, and just the FEEL of it; I’m in love with these characters and can’t wait to write their stories. 🙂

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

  • It’s in a fantasy world, which largely consists of floating cities in the clouds (Princess Tasmania is from the palace at the top of one of these), lots of rocky pillars thrusting up into the clouds and mist, farms and forests on the land below, and lots of ravines with cliffs plunging down into the misty unknown (nobody goes down there because it’s Not Safe), with wooden slat bridges and/or rope nets strung across the ravines and between pillars in some places.
  • There is no ocean in this world. (Oh, look. The Little Mermaid without the SEA. XD It’s all in the sky, peoples.)
  • A lot of the story (theoretically) takes place on skyships (a mix between our seagoing ships of the 18th century and STEAMPUNKERY), because skyships are awesome.

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Auren wants to marry Tasmania, and, well, there’s a lot standing in the way of that, which will include the trading-away-his-voice thing. (How can you ask somebody to marry you when you can’t, you know, ask?) So, that is to say, the Sorcerer of the Mist is in his way, and he’ll have to do something about that if he wants his happily ever after…

Princess Tasmania’s ultimate goal is order and keeping those she loves (and her ship) safe. Standing in her way is… pretty much everything in the book. XD Assassins and pirates and plots and all the things. But mostly her goal is getting rid of the threat against her and her family and friends, and definitely standing in her way is the Sorcerer of the Mist…

Rook just wants a normal life in the skynavy, and a family to love wouldn’t be amiss. His family being… pretty much dead… is therefore awkward, and so is himself being presumed dead and therefore kind of out of the navy. Then his major problems are a captain with a vendetta against him, oh, and awkwardly ending up without a memory… Yeah… So — surprise — it’s the Sorcerer of the Mist’s fault again… (This guy’s behind a lot; he’s a very busy fellow. XD)

9 How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Whaaaat? And ruin the surprise?? (*cough* Which is another way of saying: I have no clue as of yet, since I haven’t written it. XD)

10 What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

So I don’t really pre-plan themes? But I think I’d like a strong theme of love and also friendship and loyalty. *shrug* What can I say, it’s a YA romance-y-ish novel, and I want all the characters to learn to be friends too. XD

I’d like the reader to feel like they just read a swashbuckling, EPIC, fun (and hopefully amusing?), possibly feelsy story, one worth spending all that time reading (and all the time I anticipate I’ll spend writing it. XD). I want them to feel like they just read a GOOD book, and to close it with a smile. 🙂 (And possibly hug it, but you know, that might be asking too much. :P)

~ ~ ~

So there you have a look at the novel I’m planning to write for NaNo! I’m also featuring it for #WIPjoy over on Twitter, so if you’re curious for more tidbits, you can peruse those throughout October.

I’m also thinking about posting some NaNo tips here on my blog next week, maybe, so stay tuned for that…

Who else is doing NaNo?? You can find me on the site as Celtic Forest Dweller if you need another writing buddy, and, yes, I do have a Pinterest board for this novel (which is currently messy and in need of organizing, but for what it’s worth, there you are. XD).

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed. ^_^